Business coaching takes profession step with degree course

A NEW degree in business "coaching" will be the first masters of its kind in Scotland.

Edinburgh Napier University is to start the course next year, which will train psychological mentors to help business leaders solve problems and boost their confidence.

The Msc in Coaching aims to prove it is not just World Cup teams and tennis players who need a coach.

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Course leader Alison Denton said: "There's been a huge growth in business coaching over the last few years. It's been pretty standard in America and has come over here."

She added: "Very many people in business, particularly senior people, work with coaches.

"Coaching is about helping individuals or organisations reaching their potential. It's about supporting them to be the best they can be."

Unlike consultants, coaches will not be experts in areas such as finance, human resources or marketing brought in to solve a particular problem in a company.

"Coaching is different, because we work with clients to get them to really think through an issue, and to unlock their own resources in order to help them deal with it," said Ms Denton.

"What we are doing is asking the tricky questions to help them reflect and think about an issue.

"What coaches do need to have are really good skills in helping someone working through a problem."

Students on the course will already be working as coaches, and it is understood large finance and manufacturing firms have expressed an interest in paying for their own staff to go through the 4,000 course.

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It will be workshop-based and tutor groups will help the students coach their future clients through problems. There will also be a work-based learning project such as a dissertation at the end.

Ms Denton, who has run businesses in the private sector and also serves as a lay member on employment tribunals, has 20 years of experience as a coach.

The course begins in February next year but the university is recruiting now and hopes to begin with between 12 and 15 students.

Ms Denton added: "It's for people with some experience of coaching."

Business leaders praised the move, saying it could help Scotland's small business economy expand internationally.

David Lonsdale, assistant director of CBI Scotland praised Napier for taking the initiative.

He said: "It can often be a lonely experience running a business and it is often to take stock by bringing in an external view.

"They can keep you going in the right direction and ensure you have the skills necessary to drive the business forward."

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He added it would be important for Scotland's economy for micro-businesses to grow into small businesses and small business to grow into larger businesses, and coaching could help give firms the confidence to expand their markets internationally.

He described business coaching as a growth area in Scotland.

"It is much to Napier's credit to make sure this is done in a professional way, with professional standards and accreditation," he said.

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